How To Get Book Reviews Without Spending (Too Much) Money

    Categories: Marketing and Promotion

OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn

I believe that book reviews are critical for sales. They are up there with writing a great book and using pro editors and cover designers.

If you can get great reviews, you will make sales and they definitely impact the Amazon algorithms. I also believe in writing reviews for books I like – a little review karma comes in handy! In today's guest post, short story author Ken Brosky shares his tips for places to get reviews. 

There’s no better way to generate buzz for your books than to get some positive reviews. Heck, even negative reviews can generate some buzz! But how do you go about getting those reviews, and what should you pay?

Is it worth paying for reviews?

That all depends on your goals. While there are some major book review services that provide reviews at a fee (Kirkus and Foreword are the most popular), that fee might be out of your price range. Are you willing to spend $400 to get a book review from one of the biggest and most respected book reviewers in the business? Keep in mind it’s not necessarily a good review, either. It’s an honest review of your work, and it’s coming from tough reviewers.

More importantly, there might not be any benefit to this. Book sales probably won’t magically increase after a review by Kirkus or Foreword is published. What you can do is show other people the review to convince them to buy your book, which can be important. “Here,” you can say, “look. Someone thinks the book is good! So buy a copy why don’t you?”

This isn’t a unique sort of thing anymore. Google “15 minute book reviews” or “San Francisco Book Review” or “Pacific Book Review.” You can get reviewed by these organizations … but they can be costly. There are dozens more book review web sites that offer “expedited” reviews—basically, guarantees that they’ll review your book … for $150 or so. This adds up quick.

Reviews for the price of a book

So let’s talk about the cheaper ideas instead. And when I say “cheap,” I mean in most cases “the cost of shipping a book” and nothing more. Because it turns out there are still plenty of places online that still provide reviews for free.

First, let’s start with Midwest Book Review. This is a perfect place to start. It’s respected and run by good people who don’t charge you for reviews of print editions. They also make a point of making their reviews available to libraries and keep the reviews up on their site.

Next up, head on over to Reader Views, which allows you to send a copy of your book for free. They also have express services and other publicity services. They’re willing to review galley submissions.  They have lots of dedicated reviewers, too, which helps your chances.

When you’re done there, take a look around The Book Reporter. While they’re a little backed-up most of the time, it’s still worth sending out a copy. Why? Because they provide comprehensive reviews and they do it without charging a fee, that’s why. Also, the site is easy to navigate and has a strong following from book lovers.

Here are a few more worth trying, all of them willing to accept either print copies or electronic versions without a review fee. Note many of these are particular about getting a Kindle version:
1. Kindle Obsessed
2. The Kindle Book Review
3. Red Adept Reviews

So there’s a good start, if you ask me. What? You didn’t ask me? I’ve just been spouting all of this wonderful information for no reason? Well, as long as I’m talking to myself, I should probably mention that there are hundreds—hundreds—more book-obsessed bloggers who are more than happy to review books for their sites and don’t charge a fee, either. Here’s a giant book blogger directory.

Please be patient

One note of caution: as you peruse these various sites, you’re likely to find more than a few statements such as “Due to overwhelming demand …” and “Please be patient …”

Why is this?

Because there are a lot of authors. A lot. Likewise, there are a lot of books. And there are very few reviewers for all these books, so they have a tendency to gather on reviewers’ desks. Be patient. Give them time. Cherish them. And while you’re waiting, go on Amazon.com and buy a few of your fellow authors’ books. Support each other. Read. It will make you a better writer. And it’ll make us all a little richer.

Do you have any tips for getting book reviews? Any favorite places to pitch?

Ken Brosky's first collection of published short stories, The Unauthorized Biography of Michele Bachmann (and other stories), is available in print and at a discounted price on the Kindle. There are more stories available in his author store on Amazon, which you can reach by clicking here. He also runs a blog detailing his attempts at publicizing his book. The blog is titled “The Death of a Dream.” Maybe he’s being satirical.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons hawkexpress

Joanna Penn:

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  • Thanks Joanna, I've been really struggling with getting my Grey Faction novels and comics the attention they need, particually after my old publisher really screwed me over moneywise, leaving me skint. I'll definately check these links out. As thanks, pop to http://www.lulu.com/greyfaction and have yourself a free comic.

  • Hi Joanna. Can you please explain if it matters where a book is reviewed in order to affect rankings? i.e. does a book need to be reviewed on Amazon to affect Amazon rankings? What are the benefits of a book review on other sites, such as Goodreads, etc?
    Many thanks :)

  • Hi Joanna, I was pleased with my book trailers which you suggested I may even release a harmonica dance album, I have been busy trying to get my family history book into all of the libraries which is hard when one is a self-publisher. I am now considering a review for my TURNER TREES by Keith Pott Turner book. I am not paying $400 for a moderate review, I will get a trusted person to do this for me in my Amazon author page, fortunately I already had an authors award prior to writing my book. But I have links to the authors Thomas Hardy, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen through my research, hopefully I can show readers how they can discover famous ancestors if they get my book for Xmas.

  • One of the most respected -- yet least expensive -- paid book review sites is Publishers Daily Reviews. Its reviews are regularly republished in the Midwest Book Review.

  • Dang, you stole my idea about the harmonica - now I'll have to write about denture wearing swedish dancers instead!

  • Hi. I'm a published author who wrote a book of poetry under a pseudonym, titled "A Fool's Moon." Books are not cheap to get published, and I was barely able to afford to get my work published as it is. The number one purpose behind why I got my first book published was for my benefit, to accomplish something on a personal level. Recently, to shorten a lengthy story, a consultant from the company in which I'd published my book (Xlibris), suggested a get a book review. To say the least, she came across as aggressive, even pushy, about it (She called it being "very excited".). She offered a number of options, and as I read about them carefully, I became discouraged because of the price range. The consultant, after I conveyed my concerns to her, even went so far as to offer me a discount in getting my book reviewed. I have a considerably tight personal budget, and I inquired of why it costs money to get a book reviewed in the first place. Logically, one would think a review should be free, right? That's just the way I see it. BTW, you can find my book online at xlibris Look under the name "Enid Aames."

  • My brother recommendded I might lik this blog. He was totally right.
    This post actually made my day. Yoou can not imagine just how much time I had spent
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  • Hi Joanna, thank you for this helpful post. If this is not a problem for you, I would like to inform you that as an Italian book reviewer, I offer affordable book review services through my Italian book promotion site. For three honest and unbiased book reviews on three English or Italian book websites, authors spend 30 euros, only. I think that is a useful way to increase the international exposure for new authors. They often struggle to get many reviews in the early stages of their literary career. Anyway, I offer the same service to famous authors, also. For me, all authors are equal and I respect their work.

  • I don't understand why the Midwest Book Review site looks like it's site is from 1999, it doesn't have a look that says it's well respected.